Cork private bus company operated during Covid-19 lockdown out of 'moral obligation' 

Cork private bus company operated during Covid-19 lockdown out of 'moral obligation' 
Cobh Connect: While passenger numbers have recovered to 35% of pre-pandemic levels, at one stage they had dropped off by 97%. File picture.

A private bus company has revealed the extent of the impact of Covid-19 on its operations, with employee numbers dropping by 74% and passenger numbers falling by 97% at one stage.

The operators of the Cobh Connect service say they only kept buses on the road because they felt they had a "moral obligation" to ensure essential workers could make it to work.

Prior to the pandemic, Barry's Coaches operated a highly-successful route between Cobh and Cork. 

However, when the lockdown came, it was forced to lay off 70 of its 94 employees and, at one stage, saw a 97% drop in passenger numbers and 86% decline in turnover.

The Cork-based coach company was established in 1979 and operated a fleet of 70 coaches ranging in size from 16 to 55-seaters.

Part of their scheduled services is the Cobh Connect, which started in 2017 and, at its peak, ran 250 services weekly between the harbourside town and the city.

Thomas Kavanagh, company managing director,  said that while they welcomed the government's wage subsidy scheme, more needs to be done to enable operators like him continue in business.

“Pre-Covid, we had 94 full-time employees," Mr Kavanagh said, revealing they now have just 24.

“Passenger numbers have recovered to 35% of pre-Covid levels," he said. 

"The reason we continued to operate the Cobh Connect service was because we have a social contract with the people of Cobh and Cork and, in particular, those essential workers who are dependent on this service.

He said the return of school transport in September, which the company is also involved in, will give it a bit of a boost, but their operations for tourists have taken an enormous hit as well.

“All of our international tours and tour customers have been cancelled for the rest of the year, with no end in sight.

"Some of our clients believe it could be next year or even 2022 before the return to even 50% of the business levels from 2019,” he said.

Cobh has been hit particularly hard by the non-arrival of cruise liners and the tourists they bring.

Cruise Europe chairman Captain Michael McCarthy, who also lives in Cobh, has said it could be 2023 before the town's cruise business gets back to 2019 levels.

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Saturday, September 26, 2020

  • 5
  • 7
  • 8
  • 13
  • 18
  • 25
  • 26

Full Lotto draw results »